Channel 5 to build on momentum of English women's cricket in highlights deal
The England women’s cricket team are to receive coverage on terrestrial television in the UK for the first time after commercial broadcaster Channel 5 agreed a deal to show highlights of their home matches.
The free-to-air network already shows highlights of the home internationals of the England men’s team.
The new deal runs up to and includes the 2019 season, when England host Australia in the Women’s Ashes, encompassing test matches, one-day internationals and Twenty20 internationals, with Channel 5 seeking to capitalise on the growth in popularity of women’s cricket after England won the recent Women’s Cricket World Cup on home soil.
Live rights to the England men’s and women’s team’s home matches are held by UK pay-TV operator Sky.
The Channel 5 deal will be a short-lived one given that free-to-air TV coverage of the England teams’ home games is moving to the BBC, the UK’s public-service broadcaster, in 2020.
Nonetheless, the ECB believes it will enable the momentum to be maintained, with Clare Connor, the director of England women’s cricket, saying: “The move to show England women’s cricket highlights on terrestrial TV is another huge step forward for international women’s cricket.
“The ticket sales and viewing figures from the ICC Women’s World Cup showed there is a growing audience for our game and this platform will give us the chance to further capitalise on that. We are overwhelmingly proud of our World Cup winners and it will be wonderful for even more fans to be able to watch them in action from next year.”
A peak of 1.1 million viewers watched England beat India by the narrow margin of nine runs in last month’s sold-out final of the Women’s Cricket World Cup at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London shown on the Sky Sports and Sky Sports Mix channels.
At the end of June, Sky and the BBC concluded five-year deals worth a total of £1.1 billion ($1.43 billion) to show England national team and domestic cricket from 2020 onwards.
This will entail live coverage of a limited number of England men’s and women’s Twenty20 matches and games from a new men's domestic Twenty20 competition on the BBC, the first live English cricket on terrestrial television since 2005.
Channel 5, which is now owned by US media giant Viacom, has held highlights rights to the England men’s home internationals since 2006.
The BBC holds live radio rights to England men's and women's home matches and domestic cricket, and this agreement has been extended through to 2024.